Happy New Year! We’ve chosen Peace as our next Fruit of the Spirit for this month. I’m so glad; we often hope for peace at the beginning of the year. I find myself wishing people a ‘peaceful’ new year.
Back in 2015, I chose ‘Peace’ as my Word of the Year. I tried to keep it in my heart throughout the year. It was a bit of a turbulent year: I was working full time, Ben was 2 and in nursery, and we’d only just moved to Lancashire. Furthermore, I had a new job where I was finding my feet, some really challenging classes, Then I – happily – fell pregnant with Samuel, so spent most of the year anxious about the pregnancy and the birth.
Speaking that word, peace, over me throughout the year gave me a profound sense of stillness. My understanding of the Holy Spirit grew. Despite the frantic, stressful pace of life, I found myself seeking the peaceful moments, and being able to ‘tune in’ to the Holy Spirit much more easily. In the craziness of that year, focusing on God’s peace kept me sane.
Our verse for this week speaks about those who promote peace. It links beautifully with joy, which was our focus for December. ‘Those who promote peace have joy.’
Peace is similar to joy in that it is so much more than an emotion. Peace is again, a deep, spiritual sense. You can have peace when the world is failing you.
Peace is also the absence of conflict. In a similar vein to ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ the Bible is encouraging us to promote peace.
How can I promote peace?
Most of the conflict in my own home comes from my children. They can squabble over things (I know Samuel is only 1, but don’t underestimate the determination of a toddler). Ben argues with me. They can both be challenging at times. How can I promote peace if I can’t even manage my own children at times.
But actually, I think we have a responsibility to show them peace. We demonstrate this when we teach them to cope with conflict and to resolve their differences. Our children look to us constantly for examples of how we behave, and demonstrating peace helps them to develop peace.
I know there are often times when it is difficult to promote peace. I think this is particularly true at work, when we can easily become angered or stressed. That’s when I think it is so important to cultivate that sense of ‘tuning in’ to God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Peace is attractive
When I think about the first part of this verse, “Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,” the very words seem ugly to me. Deceit, and evil, have a corrupting influence. We have all seen lives and families broken by deceit.
In the opposite way, peace is incredibly attractive. I have a friend who has recently become a Christian. She came to church because she saw that Christians have a real peace about them that she had only encountered in Christians. That’s pretty incredible. So many people, especially in this fast-paced world, where we are so dissatisfied with what we have, lack peace. Therefore peace can be what attracts people towards Christ.
Peace leads to Joy
Peace and joy aren’t just for Christmas. They are available to us all year round through Jesus. Yet at this time of year, we are faced with the message that we must somehow not be at peace. We’re not at peace with our bodies, with our finances, with our homes. We must constantly strive to be better/stricter/fitter/healthier.
Of course, we are called to look after our bodies, our finances, our homes. That’s part of being a good steward of what God has given us, and looking after our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. No. What I’m talking about is feeling that hatred and dissatisfaction.
The Holy Spirit brings peace. Ask Him to help you find peace with your body. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your home. Surrender your finances to Jesus and you will find peace.
And therefore we will find joy. We will know both peace and joy deep in our hearts.
I know I want to live a peace-filled life. What about you?
Next week, we will be looking at this verse from Colossians 3:15.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
Rachel and I have a lovely community growing over on Facebook to support each other meditating on these verses. To join, you need to pop over to Rachel’s blog, and fill in the contact form at the bottom.